Saturday, August 15, 2020

The War On Christmas

There's no RPG content here folks, just proof that conservatives hate Christmas.

In America now the President, a trash bag of human skin, is hobbling the Post Office, an organization enshrined in the Constitution. By attacking the Post Office, it's possible holiday cards will need to be shipped via private carriers - most of which charge around $6 per letter at present. At that rate sending 20 Christmas cards will cost $120 in shipping. We send about 100 Christmas cards a year, but we won't be doing this if we have to budget $600 for shipping letters.

Conservatives are enabling this and debating for this in some cases. 'Not all conservatives!' I know is being shrieked. But if you vote for this, you're asking for it. A war on sending Christmas cards is a war on Christmas. USPS ships more in a month than Fedex and UPS in a year. If you want your nieces and nephews to get their Christmas presents, the choice is clear.

I have loved and thrown lots of money into the last two Zinequests on Kickstarter; I'm hoping the USPS doesn't get so hobbled that we cannot ship zines around my country. And/or destroy all kinds of small businesses that utterly rely upon shipping infrastructure, established by our Constitution.

If you are still here, I should say: I've been vocal about this on Twitter as well, but it's worth pointing out - Black Lives Matter. Trans rights are human rights. And now back to RPG content! I lied before! I am capricious!

RULE ZERO - ACAB

This came out of a discussion on twitter, where Fiona rightly pointed out that the best rule zero is that all cops are bastards. Even if you believe otherwise (buh bye) this is a great rule zero for any modern campaign. 'Why don't the protagonists go to the police?' Well all the cops are bastards. If some monster is terrorizing the town the police will pin it on the PCs for trying to come forward. They'll arrest the PCs for knowing about the terror that the police have been trying to hide, because they want to avoid public panic. Unrealistic? Just check out our coronavirus response.

Or the cops are working for the monsters... Think of BLADE. 

Are You Out Of Your Damn Mind

Watch how the cops yell freeze, Wesley Snipes turns around calmly, and then the cops start blasting. Now I know someone will show up to whine that he's holding a sword! And wearing black clothes! But the cops or hospital security or whatever are far away, and this movie was made before the '21 foot rule' became a popularly misunderstood reason for capping people. 

Also there is a VAMPIRE that has been burnt but it somehow still alive and he has blood on his face from biting and sucking human blood, but do the cops shoot the vampire? NO! They shoot at the Big Scary Black Man With A Katana. Because he turned around calmly.

This is of course because most of the law enforcement is in league with the vampires in the Blade cinematic universe. 

So the next time the PCs want to get the police to fight cosmic horror for them, just remember: all cops are bastards. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

What's So Cool About Modern Occultists and a Burning Revolving World

I wrote a game! It's here: What's So Cool About Sigils and Bibliomancy When The World Is Aflame

It's about people dealing with how terrible the world is through a collection of simple resolution systems that involve doodling magic symbols and divination and stuff. It's a d6-only system where sometimes you roll 1d6, sometimes you roll 2d6, sometimes you flip over tarot cards or use whatever divination oracle you want, and sometimes the GM makes up a new system of magic and drops it on you and the world. Sometimes riot cops are kicking down you door, sometimes the giants beneath the Earth are kicking in their sleep.

Art by Jakub Rebelka

It's very simple, there's almost no art or layout work, and I still need to re-edit it and re-upload it at some point, but I wanted to get something out there rather than try to find more time to polish it forever and never get done with it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Towards an Anti-Canonical Not-Warhammer 40k: Blood Floats In Space

Blood Floats in Space is a great Mothership supplement that imagines a beauty-obsessed space authority and its vassals, the Empire Without Borders Or Competition. Ruled with martial law, social classes are determined by beauty, systems with aesthetic flaws are destroyed and harvested for their base parts. The zine adds in two new classes - an armor entombed warrior and a ticking time bomb of a psyker. 


art by ArielP
The armor warrior can straight-up replace the Marine class, which is cool - all off-brand Astartes and no Imperial Guard with their flashlights, I say. The Psyker class freakin can melt its own face off if it successfully uses its powers a lot, much less if it fails psychic cast rolls. That's perfect. Psychic powers are like lighting a stick of dynamite with your brain, the zine informs us, and this class' characters are going to screw that up and some point.

Horrible star gods are detailed, which are worshiped by people in the empire. There are a small number of new gear-bits, a great number of psychic powers with amazing names ('For Every Psychic That Dies To Their Own Folly, Another Dies In A Psionic Duel'), Psychic Catastrophes ranging from merely gross to rolling a new character, a character sheet, d100 amazing rumors and d100 Empire-specific trinkets for your PCs.

The Gods are great and terrible. Each has a paragraph about their history/domain, a d6 table of manifestations that could wreck the players' day (or provide adventure fodder), and a final paragraph about their terrible human worshipers.

The Empire is ruled by the Empress, who was a popular musician before fusion with an alien lifeform and becoming an immortal floating space brain which commands the decaying remains of the delightfully-named Empire Without Borders Or Competition. 

I think there are a few things I'd love to add - the zine has some real fruitful voids where I want more stuff but I'm sure what I want is different than someone else. I feel like Mothership characters should get some Beauty stat for dealing with people in the Empire, and that maybe characters with a higher starting Beauty stat have some kind of Noble 'class' that they can unlock. A Noble would be good at, I dunno, dueling and evaluating poison in food. And that's about it. They're pretty (by Empire standards) and pretty useless. 

Maybe there should be mutation - just use A Pound of Flesh! But it should reduce your beauty stat? Because the Empire hates mutants because Empires are actually dumb. 

The PCs are sent on tasks that will likely gain mutations and have to hide them, Nobles are foppish and like the opposite of Teamsters, psykers are as useful and dangerous as unstable explosives, the Gods sometimes manifest in benevolent ways but really aren't here for anyone but themselves. It's a cool zine with a great setting in it - both explicit and implicit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

TROIKA BACKGROUNDS FROM THINGS IN MY OFFICE BACKGROUND

THAT'S RIGHT IT'S TIME FOR troika: THE BEST RPG OF ALL TIME.

These backgrounds are hot off the memetic cobweb receiver and guaranteed to `make destroy` all things. 

SAMPLE MONSTER / SAMPLING MONSTER

You were just a moth, once. You lived in a nice cave, free of bats thanks to the dragon. Those callous adventurers hurt her, made her flee into strange angles, and all that was left was her blood. You mourned her, you supped on her lifeblood, and learnt that you can absorb things from monsters. 

And everything is a monster.

Possessions: Large moth body, wings. You're big enough that a small person could ride on you.

Absorb 2
Absorbed Power 3
Fly 4
Astrology 3
Spell: Languages 2

Special: Roll Absorb against the monster's Skill to absorb whatever special ability it had. Use your Absorbed Power skill to use said power, if relevant. You can only have one at a time. You take on some aspect of the monster, you may use your Absorbed Power skill to heighten this aspect. Use of Absorbed Power may come at a Stamina cost. 

TOTAL RESISTANCE

Absolute power inspires rebellion. But only in a few. Your rebel cell was rolled up, captured, and you were denied sanctuary by others in the organization. You are in a unique position - are you still willing to fight the Autaurch, your old compatriots, both, neither? No one is sure. Either way, both sides consider you a loose end to be tied up.

Possessions: Poison capsule, lethal. Book of 1-time passphrases. Pistolet, 2 plasmic cores.

Pistolet Fighting 2
Secret Sign: Resistance 3
Awareness 1
Run 2
Spell: Coal Resolve 4

ICEHEARTED

You inhaled a spore of the anti-sun, and its cold has settled into your heart. It may eventually consume you and render you an icy golem of its will, but for now you can use its effects for your own ends.

Possessions: Ice-crystal sword, 

Golden Barge 2
Sword Fighting 1
Club Fighting 1
Spell: Hurricane (but with snow as well) 4

Special: Spend 1 Stamina per level of Ice Armor you'd like until your next rest. Ice Armor protects you from heat and cold completely. It also protects from damage. It can be created as a reaction, before damage is applied. Once you have spent 10 Stamina on Ice Armor, you become an Ice Golem. Hand your character sheet to the GM.

WEAPON EXPLAINER

There are many warriors. Yours is a different path. You explain the function and mechanism of weapons to plebians - sometimes to convince the masses to avoid troubling their betters, sometimes to convince the masses to spend their silver ducats on exotic weapons at the behest of monied interests. 

Blacksmithing 1
Clean Weapon 2
Etiquette 1
Evaluate 2
Metallurgy 2

Possessions
Weapon Cleaning Oil, 3 doses bottle
Rags
White Gloves
Crystalline Recorder / Projector - can project up to 500' and generate an image up to 150' square

Special: If you clean a weapon for an hour, it gets +1 to damage rolls for the first combat it's used in. Uses up 1 dose of weapon cleaning oil (which is about 46 sp a bottle). On a fumble you can't put the weapon back together and it needs to be repaired.

FORMER FARMER

You loved your life as a farmer until you found out it was a complete lie. The rest of the villagers set aside your plot and prepared a place for you to get you ready to be a human sacrifice to keep their crystal dome alive and well, and to satisfy their Blood God.

Possessions: 
Hungry Goat (Skill 7, Climb 4, Stamina 6, Small Beast Damage)
Shovel (2, 3, 3, 4, 6, 8)

Awareness 2
Plant-wise 3
Secret Sign: Blood God Cult 2
Run 2
Scythe 1
Shovel 1

Special: You can reroll the mein of any wild or farm animal, but must take the rerolled value.

Todo: 

CAPSULE COMMANDER

JAZZPUNK


FLOATING SKULL

PSYCHIC DRUMMER

Monday, February 17, 2020

Science Fighting Fantasy

Brian wrote some brilliant stuff about how to retroclone Fighting Fantasy. He has since expanded this into a Part 2  which I need to re-read again, but I came up with some ideas already. 

I wrote about Odd Light already, which has 1 'stat' called Skill. I figured for low Skill characters, you get to roll on a table and you get one more stat, based off what you are or your background. So a 4 Skill PC gets to be a Robot and has a ROBOT stat that they roll under to do robot-y things. I think you could roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill in Brian's FF hack, and have an Awesome Background stat that's 15 - Skill. So if you have a high Skill, you actually suck at your Awesome Background - you're the awesome soldier who has a 5 in Following Orders, or a swashbuckling rogue with a 5 in Con Artist. 

But then I figured you would just roll 1d6 + 4 for Skill, and low skill people just can cast spells or are radiation ghosts or are 2-meter-tall floating skull heads. You know, just, they can do some neat things without a roll at all, because their Skill is terrible. For a 5 or 6 Skill character, if you can cast spells you still roll 2d6 to see if you fumble, Troika style, but otherwise you just pay your Stamina fee. 

SKILL: Roll 1d6+4, consult the table below for your Background.
LUCK: Roll 1d6+6
STAMINA: Roll 2d6+12

BACKGROUND / SKILL MATRIX

10 SKILL: Soldier, Starbarian, Boarding Specialist, Escaped Convict, Space Paladin, Laser Sword Duelist, Semiferal Hypercat

9 SKILL: Ship's Gunner, Combat Medic, Pyromancer, Vat-Grown Hyperwarrior, Robotic Siege Soldier, Dog-bonded trooper

8 SKILL: Thief Entertainer Singer, Space Monk with mild Telekinesisperosis, Bounty Hunter, Conman Pilot Scoundrel, 2-fisted ex-cop

7 SKILL: Parkour Half Ghost, Electric Gnome Asteroid Miner, Spiderbot Scout Ambusher, Reflex-boosted Knife Juggler, Embodied Black Hole, Lava Person

6 SKILL: Angel Summoner, Space Wizardling, Rebuilt Warbot Botanist, Ultratrucker w/ Morphin' Fists, Telestrike cyborg mechanist

5 SKILL: Radiation Ghost, Psi Vampire Shadowform, Rewinder Sage, 2-meter flying stone head, Skeleton Astroneer Mystic, Nitrous-blooded race witch.

Now I just need to expand on all of these backgrounds such that the game can be easily played. Some low skill characters may have 1 or 2 UNCHANGING advanced skills, but most of them would just have a neat Special power or two.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Odd Light: Monsters Made Me Do This

Chris at Bastionland wrote Odd Lite back in the long-ago days of Google Plus, when the world was not on fire as obviously. Odd Lite is a lighter version of Into the Odd - something I figured would be impossible. In Odd Lite, you have hit points and one roll-under stat, SKILL. 

I freaking love the 4 example monsters in this tiny hack so much I thought of ways to make this a viable-er to me game. My only concern was, with one randomly-rolled stat, even in a system where you roll under it more as a saving throw than as a normal 'skill check,' someone with a really low SKILL will feel sad. 

I took a page out of the larger Into the Odd book(let), where low stats and HP let one get better starting gear / abilities, and figure if you have low skill you should be able to roll to get one more roll-under stat that describes your specialness. I know, going from 1 to 2 stats makes this about as crunchy as using all the GURPS splatbooks at once, but hear me out.

OTHER STAT = 21 - SKILL

Only roll on this table if you have a low SKILL! GMs, think of what that means before you run the game. (My table, 8 or lower.)


  1. Robot. Other stat is MIGHT, used for strength checks, absorbing physical damage. You must be repaired to fix MIGHT and SKILL. You don't eat, sleep, or breath. Each fist is a 1d6 weapon, together they are a 1d8 weapon.
  2. Thief. Other stat is THIEF, used for crime, sneaking, and related saves. Start with black cloak, thieves' tools, soft shoes, 3 daggers (1d6 damage).
  3. Acrobat. Other stat is ACRO. Roll under for parkour, falling. Fall damage is applied to ACRO. Out of ACRO, you cannot move. Start with a long pole (1d8 2-handed weapon), bright clothes, starter pistol (fires blanks).
  4. Prehistoric Dog. Other stat is DOG. Used for tracking, running, absorbing damage. You're about the size of a tiger. 1 armor (fur), bite does 1d8 damage, cannot hold things in your paws.
  5. Dirt Wizard. Other stat is DIRT. You can control up to a person's worth of dirt, DIRT is used if saving throws are needed for your dirt-homunculus, or to do very difficult things with dirt. You can see through the pile of dirt you control if you began controlling it when you touched it. 
  6. Forgotten God. Other stat is GOD. Used to turn undead / divine things not of you / demons. Also can check to heal others. Costs 2 GOD per entity turned or HP healed. 
  7. Deposed Royalty. Other stat is ROY. Used to command others, rally mercenaries / hirelings. Or garner respect if the people already, you know, like tyrants. (Keep in mind you were deposed for a reason.) Start with a 1d8 rapier (1 handed) that has a fancy, gold-plated hilt.
  8. Pyromancer. Other stat is FIRE. Can summon fire, up to 1d6 damage worth, basically the size of a campfire, or can extinguish the same amount. Can only have 1 fire summoned at a time. Burnt robes, 1 armor (scars, nerve damage).
  9. TK. Other stat, TK. Roll under to move something small as if by 1 hand, spend HP and ESP to move a larger object (human-sized, 3 points). Can deal structural damage if you spend 8 points from HP and/or the stat, but you have little control compared to normal telekinetic stuff.
  10. Water Mage. Other stat is WAT. Roll under to turn into a liquid or turn back, your equipment doesn't come with you. Start with a bucket you like to sleep in.

I'm super glad Bruno saved that G+ post.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Whiff Table: Something happens every round of combat

I'm thinking of running 0e DnD or Black Pudding's flavor of B/X, or Moldhammer, or Wolfbreaker. But I love combat systems from Into the Odd where there's no to-hit roll (and no missing) or Troika/Tunnel Goons/Macchiato Monsters where someone always gets hit. What to do? Write a whiff table! 

WHIFF


When two opposed combatants in melee both miss their attacks, roll on the whiff table.
  1. You knock each other's helms off. If anyone involved is not wearing a helm, they take 1d6 damage.
  2. You both fall down. 50% chance you're on top. You're at a range where punches, kicks, and daggers will work; larger melee weapons will not.
  3. You bind weapons and then push one another back. Their weapon lands at your feet; yours lands at theirs.
  4. Belt or backpack cut. Lose the top item in your inventory, as it is on the ground now.
  5. Lesser HD combatant knocked back into someone else on their side, who must save or be knocked down. 
  6. Environmental damage! Crack the ceiling, start a fire, destroy furniture, valuables, etc.
  7. Tooth loosened. You can spit it out in their face for a +4 to hit bonus next round, or try to keep it in place and get it fixed later (maybe?). No hp loss.
  8. Metal strikes stone. You and your opponent are bathed in sparks. Exposed paper or oil will begin to burn. Hair smolders.
  9. Opponent had an oil jar or gland that you just barely nick, but it splits open nevertheless. You, your opponent, and the ground are drenched in oil. 
  10. You just barely get an opening. If you swing with everything you have, embedding your weapon in your opponent, you can do so and roll damage with advantage, but you lose your weapon. Otherwise, normal miss.
  11. Their swing or thrust misses, but tosses sweat and grit in your eyes. Take -4 to AC until you spend a round wiping that out; your peripheral vision is .
  12. You clash weapons and it's incredibly loud. Roll for an additional encounter.
  13. You disarm them and their weapon sails behind them. If they have natural weapons they take 1d6 damage.
  14. Their weapon pins you in place. They lose it but you will have to struggle for 1d3 rounds to be able to move again. Can still fight.
  15. Ancient war-sigil mine stepped on, 1-3 by you, 4-6 by enemy. Spend next round levitating 10' in the air. Spells lowers you down gently (defective).
  16. Skyknife! Your weapon is knocked up into the ceiling and lodged there. It'll fall in 1d6 rounds. Anyone under it could be hit by it. (If no ceiling is available your weapon targets someone random closeby.)
  17. Ambient magical energy interacts with your intent to cause harm. You and your opponent glow like torches. -4 AC penalty to both of you for 1d6 rounds.
  18. You blink blood out of your eyes. You and your opponent are covered in blood and gore. Perhaps another attack drenched you both, perhaps some blood god is merely happy at your mishap.
  19. Their swing is about to cleave into your throat and you are suddenly in the Dead Realm. Any spirits or undead in the area are still present, otherwise it is empty, grey, cold, foggy. You can move about for 1 round and then you will re-appear wherever you moved to. Any valuable treasure or items are but dust in the Dead Realm, unless you brought them in yourself.
  20. Both of your weapons bind and break. If either of you were using magical weapons, said weapons can save against breakage. (Roll a 4 or more on a d6, adding the weapon's magical bonus.)
You could just roll a d6 against this table, or a d12 if you don't want random magical war-sigils to show up in your theatre of the mind, or random Dead Realm trips.